Alaska National Wildlife Refugegreenspun.com : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread
ANWR: RUMOR AND DESIRE
By Ben Spiess And David Whitney
(Published August 24, 2000)
What two words send a chill through Alaska oil executives?
Sorry, that's one word.
Try: National monument.
Taking up former President Carter's call Wednesday to designate the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as national monument could put what may be the last great onshore oil bonanza in the United States out of reach.
"To say the least, that would not be good for the Alaska oil industry," Kevin Meyers, president of Phillips Alaska Inc., said earlier this week.
Rumors have flourished in the past three weeks that President Clinton will move to make ANWR a monument, although his administration denied the rumors.
Monument status would be a big step toward protecting ANWR's 1.5 million acre coastal plain from oil development.
The president can name ANWR a monument without congressional approval. The move would confer a patina of protection and usher the arctic plain into the halls of America's national treasures, such as Mount Rushmore and Fort Sumter.
Congress has never reversed a national monument declaration. A congressional vote could still open the area to development, but monuments are typically managed like national parks, which could give the coastal plain the most stringent protections from development.
Sealing off ANWR has been long sought by environmentalists and much of the U.S. public, but long fought by the oil industry and most Alaskans. Oil is a cornerstone of the Alaska economy and the source of about 60 percent of state revenue. Development could provide hundreds of jobs and arrest falling production from the North Slope's oil fields to the west.
Stephanie Hanna, spokeswoman for Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, said the Interior Department does a public review process before declaring monuments. Babbitt has no plans to begin such a process in Alaska, she said.
Mary Hanley, spokeswoman for the White House Council of Environmental Quality, the president's advisers on environmental issues, said a monument designation "has really not been under consideration and isn't presently."
Environmentalists hope a groundswell of public support will prod Clinton to protect ANWR for posterity in the twilight of his presidency. The Alaska Wilderness League took out a full-page ad in The New York Times last week on the issue.
Pro-development groups and labor organizations like the Alaska AFL-CIO fear closing the arctic plain would shut them out of an area that likely holds what the U.S. Geological Survey estimates is 5.7 billion to 16 billion barrels of recoverable oil. That's less than the Prudhoe Bay-area fields to the west but still a huge prize for oil companies, including the state's big producers: Exxon, BP Amoco and Phillips Petroleum.
The 1906 Antiquities Act, which empowers the president to create the monuments, requires no consultation -- or even notification -- of states in which monuments are located.
An Iowa congressman, John Lacey, crafted the law to make "small reservations" to protect "historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures and other objects of historic and scientific interest." Of particular concern at the turn of the century were archaeological sites in the Southwest, which were being looted.
But presidents frequently used the act to protect large areas of natural beauty, including Teddy Roosevelt's designation of the Grand Canyon in 1908 and Franklin Roosevelt's designation of the Grand Tetons in 1943.
The most dramatic use of the law was Carter's designation of 56 million acres in Alaska as national monuments in 1978.
Neither Ronald Reagan nor George Bush created any monuments. Clinton, however, has designated 10 monuments since 1996. At least three more are under consideration.
The moves have been hailed by environmentalists but blasted by many Western U.S. politicians as a land-grab to secure a conservation legacy.
"Clinton has been swashbuckling around the West using national monuments to build an environmental legacy he has no congressional support for," said Bill Horn, a lawyer and former assistant secretary of the Interior in the Reagan administration.
The expansive powers of the Antiquities Act have come under fire.
In 1999, Rep. James Hansen, R-Utah, pushed legislation requiring congressional approval for any monument larger than 50,000 acres. A watered-down version passed the House. The bill is pending in the Senate.
Most national monuments established by Clinton have been created after a public review process, overseen by the Interior Department.
No review process is under way for ANWR, and Babbitt has repeatedly said that he will not urge a monument designation for the coastal plain.
ANWR would likely fit the broad definition of national monuments, experts say. The Eisenhower administration originally set it aside as protected federal land. Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens wrote the order when he was Interior Department solicitor.
But Stevens strenuously insists that the set aside was never intended to stop oil exploration. In one of the late compromises over the 1980 Alaska lands act, Stevens and Washington Sen. Henry "Scoop" Jackson required a study of ANWR's oil potential. Stevens also hammered out that law's "no more clause," which prohibits any new land set-aside in Alaska greater than 5,000 acres without congressional approval.
Environmentalists point out that a monument designation would not be a new set-aside but a new designation for already protected land.
"It's not a new withdrawal," said Adam Kolton of the Alaska Wilderness League.
Horn insists otherwise.
The no-more clause is a "plain limitation on future land set-asides in Alaska," he said.
Were Clinton's monument designation to stick on ANWR, it would be tough to overturn. Only Congress could reverse the monument status.
Unlike national parks, monument management is tailored to each site and can allow resource development, such as the huge Greens Creek mine at Admiralty Island National Monument in Southeast Alaska.
Most believe Clinton would not interfere in the contest between pro-ANWR development George W. Bush and pro-protection Al Gore. If Clinton acts, he'll likely wait until after the November election.
"It will be a parting shot," predicted Curtis Thayer, U.S. Rep. Don Young's former campaign manager and now government affairs director at Enstar Natural Gas Co.
And that parting shot will be more likely if Bush is elected, Thayer said.
-- Cave Man (email@example.com), August 24, 2000
Carter asks Clinton to declare Arctic refuge monument status
By ELIZABETH MANNING Anchorage Daily News August 24, 2000
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Former President Carter has urged President Clinton to designate the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge coastal plain a national monument, which would almost certainly block oil and gas drilling there.
"The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge should be designated without further delay as a national monument," Carter said Wednesday during a luncheon celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.
Carter's comment, which was met by loud applause from the pro-environment audience, marked the first time he has publicly asked Clinton to turn the coastal plain into a monument.
Carter, who said he planned to personally talk with Clinton about the designation, said it would continue the work he and others started in the 1970s to protect Alaska's wild lands. He signed the act into law on Dec. 2, 1980.
The Alaska conservation act declared 104 million acres in Alaska to be national parks, wildlife refuges, national forests or other federal conservation units. It tripled the acreage of the nation's protected wilderness and doubled the size of the national park system.
Carter lobbied hard for the law and claims it as one of the greatest accomplishments of his administration. But he lamented Wednesday that the final compromise bill did not adequately protect the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The 1.5-million-acre coastal plain, in the state's northeast corner, is regarded as the most promising onshore site in America for a major oil discovery, capable of producing billions of barrels of oil. Environmentalists and the Clinton administration say the area is precious for wildlife and as an arctic ecosystem and should be protected.
Oil companies and Alaska political leaders have long argued the area can be developed without hurting the environment.
Carter urged Alaskans to write to Clinton asking him to create an Alaska monument and to tell him that "we are just as interested as he is in his legacy" as a pro-environment president.
"This is something the president can do" before he leaves office, Carter said. "I wouldn't depend on the next four years."
From the start, Alaska's congressional delegation and others criticized the lands act as unnecessarily locking up lands to resource development. But Carter and others who spoke Wednesday portrayed the law's legacy differently.
The lands act hasn't ruined Alaska's economy as opponents claimed it would, Carter said. Instead, he said, the law has helped fuel the state's booming tourist economy by protecting its wild lands and natural beauty.
-- Cave Man (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 24, 2000.
These articles demonstrate the complacent attitudes about energy.
Crisis? What crisis?
It will only get worse.
-- Cave Man (email@example.com), August 24, 2000.
TAKE UP **SPOTTED OWLS** with algore.
YOU will be far happier in the future.
Toss in a bit of "global warming", Freon, tobacco and you can stay busy until the Doctor comes to see you on his monthly tour of your facility.
-- cpr (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 24, 2000.